Last week Marabou looked at artists installing art or themselves as acts of subversion within the museum. Today, Marabou is thinking about subtle, but impactful gestures made within the Whitney Museum’s galleries as acts of protest. Following the revelation that Whitney Vice Chairman, Warren B. Kanders, owns the military supply company that sells the tear gas used on migrants at the US/Mexico border, artists Daniel Bejar and Sibyl Kempson took to the galleries to stand against Kanders.
Bejar explained in a Dec 9 Instagram post, “In response to the explicit connection between these known injustices and arts funding, I organized these interventions at @whitneymuseum wearing T-shirts with @safarilandgroup subsidiary tear gas company’s slogan ‘Less Lethal Solutions’.” Bejar and others walked around the Whitney in the T-shirts, spreading awareness and piquing interest of visitors who may not know about the Kanders situation.
View this post on Instagram
On Nov. 25th US Authorities fired tear gas into Mexico to repel asylum seeking Central American migrants. It was later revealed that the tear gas was manufactured by a US company @safarilandgroup which is owned by Warren Kanders, who happens to be a Vice Chairman of the board @whitneymuseum and is a significant contributor to the current Andy Warhol exhibition. In response to the explicit connection between these known injustices and arts funding, I organized these interventions @whitneymuseum wearing T-shirts with @safarilandgroup subsidiary tear gas company’s slogan “Less Lethal Solutions”. These T-shirts will soon be for sale on my website and 100% of proceeds will go to organizations at the US/Mexico Border supporting the Central American immigrants seeking asylum. Arts funding is a complex issue – the values and ethos of artists and arts institutions can often be in direct conflict with the activities of the companies operated by their most significant financial contributors. Big shout out to @decolonizethisplace for organizing a powerful protest today, happy to have been there. Special thank you to all who helped and collaborated today @laymanamyal @reikohamano @misscrispe. Solidarity with refugees and immigrants at the US/Mexico border and around the world. #whitneymuseum #warrenkanders #safariland #defensetechnology #teargas #andywarhol #warhol #moneymoney #art #museums #lesslethalsolutions
Kempson had a three-year performance project at the Whitney called “12 Shouts to the Ten Forgotten Heavens.” Art Net reported that in the project’s last weeks she used her presence in the museum to show solidarity in the protest against Kanders and inform visitors by distributing posters created by Decolonize This Place for the Dec. 9th protest. Kempson exemplifies an artist who used her residency as more than a showcase for her art, but also as a platform to voice institutional critique.
Bejar and Kempson show us that critique of the museum is possible through many different mediums and methods. Marabou encourages us to think of creative ways to express what change we want to see.